Expressing obligation with hay que

We use hay que + infinitive in order to say one must do something or it is necessary to do something. Look at these examples:

Hay que llevar una vida sana.
One must lead a healthy lifestyle.

Hay que escuchar en clase con atención.
One must listen in class carefully.

Hay que ser más solidarios con los demás.
It is necessary to support other people more.

Hay que consumir menos energía para cuidar el planeta.
It is necessary to consume less energy in order to protect the planet.

Note that the verb haber is only conjugated in the 3rd person singular as it works as an impersonal verb.
You cannot omit que!

You can also use

tener que [have to] conjugated + infinitive verb

in order to express obligation. In this case, do not forget to conjugate tener according to the subject. For example:

Tenemos que gastar menos dinero.
We have to spend less money.

See also Expressing obligation with tener que.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Hay que consumir menos energía para cuidar el planeta.
It is necessary to consume less energy in order to protect the planet.


Hay que escuchar en clase con atención.
One must listen in class carefully.


Hay que llevar una vida sana.
One must lead a healthy lifestyle.


Hay que ser más solidarios con los demás.
It is necessary to support other people more.


Q&A

Ruthann

Kwiziq community member

25 March 2019

1 reply

"One must" sounds (to my American ear) like it's British English. Here we'd say "you have to". Is that an acceptable way to think of "hay que"?

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

26 March 2019

26/03/19

Hola Ruthann

Yes that would also be an acceptable translation, as long as you don't consider that "you" as a literal you, but as a general "you".

Gracias y saludos

Inma

Clever stuff underway!